Don’t Be Destroyed By Guilt
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
(1 John 1:9)
We have all felt guilt at one time or another. Maybe we told a lie, stole something, cheated on someone or something, blurted out angry, hurtful words at someone, was rude and arrogant, did something wrong that others may have pressured us into doing, etc. The list of wrongs we could possibly commit can be pretty lengthy. The fact remains, we have all felt guilt.
Guilt can come in several forms. The dictionary describes guilt as the following:
– The fact of having committed an offense, crime, violation or wrong.
– A feeling of responsibility or remorse for committing an offense, crime, violation or wrong, whether real or imagined.
– To cause one to feel guilt (guilt-trip)
To feel guilt can be a good thing because it keeps us in check when we do something wrong causing us to feel remorse and producing the urge to correct our wrong doing through confession to God and others, apologizing to someone we’ve hurt, or by correcting a situation. We all make mistakes and are not beyond doing something wrong. Guilt can be that flashing warning light that something went wrong and needs to be fixed.
However, there are times when guilt can be a not so good thing and a hindrance in our walk. It’s not good when it is used by others to get us to do something they want us to do for their own benefit. It’s also not good when thoughts of things we’ve done wrong in our past continue to resurface though we have corrected the wrong, confessed it and repented from it. Guilt can bring along a couple of its friends, fear and doubt, causing us to worry that God really hasn’t forgiven us and has severed our relationship with Him. This type of guilt continues to torment our minds of that wrong we committed in the past and never allows us peace from it. If you have not forgiven yourself, then you must do so, going before the Lord and asking Him to help you with this. If you have forgiven yourself, then you must realize where that type of guilt is coming from. The Bible states in Revelations 12:9-10 that Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelations 12:9-10). Satan not only goes before God accusing us day and night but he will constantly remind us of our wrongs. God, however, forgives us of those wrongs once we confess and repent. He then remembers them no more as we see in Hebrews 8:12:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more”
We must remember that God does not operate the way we see others operate. As humans, we are not very good at forgiving and many times will walk away from someone who has hurt us with their words or actions. Or we may forgive them but not forget what they have done and either keep reminding them or at the very least, keep our distance from them. This is a form of protecting ourselves from further hurt. Unforgiveness is a characteristic of Satan who is identified as the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. This means that he is able to roam and plant seeds of his negative characteristics and is able whispers lies to deceive.
If you are struggling with guilt though you have confessed and repented to God and have tried to correct the wrong, then you must realize that this guilt is not coming from God but from the accuser of the brethren, our adversary, Satan. Below are lies regarding guilt that can hinder our walk along with a reminder of what God has said to encourage us:
|You are not forgiven||If we confess our sins, God will forgive us and cleans us (1 John 1:9)|
|God hasn’t forgotten what you’ve done. He will punish you.||I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)|
|You are not good enough to go to heaven because you are a sinner||Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:27-28)|
|God is punishing you for your past sins||“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1-2)|
|God won’t use you||For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)|
It is easy to feel that due to our past sins, God will judge us harshly, will turn us away and will never use us. That is the way of the enemy and the world, but it is not how God works. Let’s remember those in the Bible who had committed sins, yet God corrected them, they repented, He forgave them, He restored them and continued to use them for His glory:
David – David loved God with his whole heart and God said he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), yet David sinned greatly at times, from committing adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers, to having that soldier killed in battle to hide her pregnancy with David. Although David committed other sins, the one thing he never stopped doing was chasing after God and trying to do right for God. He didn’t allow his shortcomings to cause him to fall away from God out of guilt but rather it pushed him to seek God more. God continued using David.
Peter – Peter had his shortcomings, one being his temper. The other was fear when confronted about being a follower of Christ. When questioned about being a disciple of Jesus and about being in the garden with him (John 18:17, 25-27), Peter denied all three questions. Afterwards, Peter felt great remorse over this yet Jesus restored Him as we see in John 21:15-19. Peter went on to proclaim the gospel.
Moses – In Exodus 2, Moses murdered an Egyptian man who was beating a Hebrew, one of Moses own people and hid the man’s body in the sand. After someone had overseen what he had done and mentioned it to Moses, he fled to Midian out of fear for 40 years until the Lord sought him out to have him deliver the Israelites out of Egypt.
Abraham – Although Abraham lied twice about his wife being his sister (Genesis 12:10-13 and 20:1-2) and due to fear of being harmed instead of trusting in God for protection. Still God used Abraham greatly dues to Abraham’s faith in Him.
Paul – Paul, known as Saul before his encounter with Jesus, was a Pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians, chasing them down and throwing them into prison (Acts 8:3). Yet Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus which changed Saul so dramatically that he used that same zeal he once had to persecute Christians to now spread the gospel, leading many to salvation.
Though these men and many others were used in a mighty way, they weren’t beyond sinning. They weren’t beyond making mistakes. Even after God restored them, they still struggled at times yet God still loved them and used them because of the faith they had in Him. They never stopped seeking God but ran after Him even more. They clung to God in prayer and praise. And this is what we must do. Though we struggle with temptation and sin, we must allow times like these to cause us to chase after God even more instead of allowing it to cause us to be distant due to guilt and shame. By no means is this a free ticket to sin and then think we can just keep going back and we will be fine. Each of these men and others were truly sorry and repented and did what they could to change. In other words, they didn’t take advantage of God’s compassion and kindness. They learned from their mistakes and continued moving.
If you are struggling with guilt though you have sought God, confessed, repented and, if possible, corrected the wrong doing, then it’s time to go back to the Word of God and refresh yourself with what God has said. By reading these verses aloud, you are declaring the truth of the Word and making it known to the enemy and to yourself that you are forgiven. As long as you continue dwelling on the lies, you will only convince yourself of them. You must combat the lies with the truth and you find that truth in the Word of God, your sword, the Bible. Go before the Lord and ask Him to strengthen your helmet of salvation which covers the mind and provides hope, protecting the mid from discouragement, doubt and confusion. It is important that we remember we are saved and not allow the enemy to confuse us and discourage us to the point we doubt our salvation.
If you are not saved and have not accepted Christ as your Savior, you may do so at this time. Romans 10:9 states the following:
” that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Jesus calls us to repent of our sins. This means we must have true sorrow about the sin, confess it to Jesus, turn away from the sin and seek to be reformed, changing our ways.
If you are not saved but wish to receive the salvation of Jesus, confess your sins to Him at this time and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. You can say something like the following:
“Lord Jesus, I confess my sins to you (name your sins that come to mind). I am sorry for the wrongs I’ve committed and I repent. I believe you died on the cross for me and that God has raised you from the dead and I want you as my Lord and Savior and I’m surrendering myself to you. I accept your free gift of salvation and want to spend eternity with you. Thank you Lord for loving me despite me being a sinner. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross that allows me to be saved. Amen“
Know that you are been forgiven, the slate wiped clean and you are saved!